I had a refreshing time watching Funmi Iyanda on her programme on June Eleven. The interviews with Deola Sagoe and Fatai Rolling Dollars were particularly enjoyable and full of insight. Both guests were an interviewer`s delight –forthcoming, expressive and entertaining. I zero in on the Fatai Rolling Dollar interview.
Since the grand old man made his comeback onto the music scene after 25 years of nothingness I had been fascinated by his music partly because of the highlife flavour and the fact that at 74 years old then, he bounced back to reckoning both nationally and internationally. His is a very inspiring story. I have had to check an edition of Guinness book of records to find out if “FRD” can clinch a place there; to find out if there’s a musician with such a come back in musical history globally.
The 2002 edition of the book, records Carlos Santana as the Latin artist with the best selling album. 14 million copies of his album Supernatural has been sold in the US since its release in June 1999.The Mexican’s career has spanned five decades. Harry Belafonte has churned out many classics such that his musical prowess and influence will be hard to beat. In Africa, Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa amongst others are old men who have kept the groove on.
But how easy is it for “FRD” to get mentioned in the Guinness book of records? I thought of the KORA Awards, the organizers have done creatively well in keeping African music alive and well but the criticism had always been that it focused more on artists in South Africa and Francophone countries. The award is credible but these questions trail each award –how readily available and credible are figures of record sales? What indices are used in judging an album’ s, artist’s, group’ s or duo’s acceptance and popularity? What exactly are the basis for nominations? How really continental are the eventual winners?
Then I thought of how Femi Lasode, as former president of PMAN omitted “FRD” in the music hall of fame which he instituted with pomp and applause. Even Orlando Julius was omitted and he has since relocated to Ghana .
Fatai Rolling Dollar has paid his dues since his musical career started in the 50s with Queen Mary Orchestra, the Isa Jubril (the first highlife musician from Northern Nigeria who played in Ghana with the black Beats & the Ishola Willie Payne group where they established the music style of palm wine music according to the nationally acclaimed music critic Benson Idonije. Juju music evolved from that music type.
Then I asked myself, what is wrong with us? How can I search for a place for Fatai Rolling Dollar in the Guinness book of records when back at home he has not been recognized with such honours at the national level.
Then I thought what indices will inform Fatai’s nomination for the world book of records? My immediate challenge was that if Jazz Hole records, the record company producing and packaging “FRD’s” music will be forthcoming with the number of appearances of the musician; if the company will cease to make Rolling Dollar’s music elitist and work on mass appeal nationally and internationally then we will be on a journey to someplace.
I heard the old man telling Funmi that he plans to release 300 Albums before he dies he has done 6 and released 2 – Returns and Won kere si number. He sure has a long way to go but then all things are possible.
“FRD” exhibits the underlying characteristics of successful people – mental focus and optimism; they think about what they want and how to get it most of the time, as a result they accomplish much more than the average person, even though they might have started with no particular advantages. Rolling Dollar could almost leap at you on the Funmi Iyanda Show, so much optimism. If you winced at his tenses and constructions you over-looked it because his confidence and poise made up for it. Negligible errors really so that you marvel at the quality of education Rolling Dollar’s generation had.
I’ve met him few times, and reported his forthcoming album now released, I also had the privilege of listening to it at Kunle Tejuosho’s – the unassuming power broker and CEO of Jazz Hole Records and Glendora Bookshop. The challenge is back at him to ensure that “FRD’s” scope is not limited to few concerts and international appearances, but that a corresponding national tour that would boost sales country-wide is made possible.
“FRD” is a legend that ought to be celebrated not only in Western Nigeria but the entire country, Africa and indeed the whole world.
Look around you, how many 76 year olds are so agile and ambitious? Have a young wife, a two-year old son, jets across the land to keep appointments with music enthusiasts, jumps up and down the stage to make you gyrate and whistle to good highlife music, with humour thrown in for good measure.
Certainly, Won kere si number! Ah! Ah! Ah! Wish you luck in your quest baba share with us when you are done. Have a memorable weekend and … be here next week.
Thank you to all who sent me text messages and gifts for my birthday on June 10. God bless you. Your goodwill is the currency I spend. Thank you.